Pastor’s Blogs

“Easy or Hard”

Date: 9-28-14

Text: James 3:17-18 —  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The harvest is a little ways away….

My Thoughts: 

When ordering eggs we are asked if we want them over easy or hard  boiled or something in between; sometimes this is how we “order” wisdom…. But many people have to learn the hard way.

Lifestyle worshipers, have you been enrolled into the University of Hard Knocks? At the risk of sounding clichéd, is it making you bitter or better? For me, I would rather learn from someone else’s mistakes and avoid the proverbial potholes of life; however, I have found, in the Lord’s mercy, that learning the hard way drives the lesson home, penetrating my hardened jaded heart—softening it for the Master’s use. Have you found this to be the case, too? My grades, though improving, are pretty average at UHK. How about yours? I just have to remember the harvest is a little ways away….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

— Hebrews 12:11 (NIV84)

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

— Luke 9:23 (NIV84)

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered.

— Hebrews 5:8 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for shunning the cross where Wisdom is fully comprehended. You embraced the cross for me and I should do no less as I follow in Your steps. Lead me in the paths of Righteousness for Your Name’s sake. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Heavenly Wisdom’s Harvest”

Date: 9-27-14

Text: James 3:17-18 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Heavenly Wisdom promises a harvest of righteousness.

My Thoughts: 

Heavenly Wisdom promises a harvest of righteousness. While the “wisdom from below” produces chaos and discord (and a lot of noise), this heavenly Wisdom produces righteousness & peace. I pray this a lot. As I pray to put on the Lord Jesus Christ as my Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, I pray that we are peacemakers who sow in peace raising a harvest of righteousness and thus become known as His children….

Lifestyle worshipers, do think that the planting process is tightly connected to the harvest? In other words, can seeds be sown in anger and malice still produce righteousness? If not, then why do are we surprised when we reap the consequences of our angry actions?

I see a connection between this passage above and James’ comments in 1:19-20: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” Do you? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
 — Proverbs 29:11 (NIV84)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
 — Matthew 5:9 (NIV84)
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
— James 1:21 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. Make me an instrument of Your Presence to bring healing and not harm. Transform me into a peacemaker so that I may sow in peace and raise a harvest of righteousness. Then I will be known as one of Your Father’s children. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Heavenly Wisdom’s Peace”

Date: 9-25-14

Text: James 3:17-18 — 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: This heavenly wisdom is so other worldly it is truly hard for us to get a handle on it.

My Thoughts: 

While the “wisdom from below” brings chaos and discord (accompanied by a lot of brash noise), the “wisdom from above” brings a pure, undefiled peace that yields righteousness. This heavenly wisdom is so other worldly it is truly hard for us to get a handle on it. Oh, we may taste it, even sip it, but do we fully appreciate this heavenly wisdom’s peace?

Lifestyle worshipers, you remember that our Lord Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” (John 14:27a) This is the peace that surpasses all understand (Phil. 4:7). Do you think that the heavenly wisdom that brings this transcendent peace is also beyond us? If so, how do we appropriate the heavenly traits of this heavenly wisdom noted in James 3:17 above? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. — Proverbs 29:11 (NIV84)

But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

— Luke 6:27-28 (NIV84)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

— John 7:38 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, as You become my heavenly Wisdom, transform my mind to mirror these heavenly traits and fill my soul with Your surpassing Peace. You are my Prince of Peace! Bless Your Holy Name. Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Cunning Wisdom Poisons”

Date: 9-24-14

Text: James 3:14-16  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Cunning wisdom spawns from a heart that is poisoned with bitter envy and selfish ambition.

My Thoughts: 

I have chosen the word, ‘cunning,’ to identify this sort of ‘wisdom’ because it spawns from a heart that is poisoned with bitter envy and selfish ambition. Perhaps not all of the world’s wisdom is such—I don’t want to paint it with too broad a brush…. But ‘cunning’ is the particular word I would use because the actions spawned from such have an appearance of wisdom, but underneath is viperous poison, maneuvering and manipulating for deeply selfish ends….

Lifestyle worshipers, have you seen this sort of ‘wisdom’ in the church, too? People bitterly envious of others who got the ‘spotlight’ or the position they didn’t? Or others who power played an issue just to get their own way? Sadly, I have, and I have also noticed like Pigpen of  the Peanuts fame, a cloud of chaos seems to follow them wherever they go. Have you found this to be so, too?

Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

— Proverbs 26:24-26 (NIV84)

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”

— Matthew 7:15-16 (NIV84)

Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away.

— Ezekiel 34:20-21 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be Wisdom in me as I respond in Love to those who are poisoned with bitter envy and selfish ambition. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Does Human Wisdom Exist”

Date: 9-23-14

Text: James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: True wisdom is seen in a good life that is marked by humility.

My Thoughts: 

We learn from the verse above that true wisdom is seen in a good life that is marked by humility. I use the adjective, “true,” because there appears to be false wisdom all over the place. But the question I have seen being discussed these passed few years is: “Does human wisdom exist?” The argument goes something like this: Since people are so warped and twisted in their fallen state, they are completely incapable of doing anything right or wise without ‘borrowing’ from the Lord’s wisdom. Thus, any apparently wise ‘thing’ that is done or said is actually not from human origin, but divine inspiration….

Lifestyle worshipers, how do you understand the uniqueness of wisdom? Do we need to use adjectives, like “true,” “divine,” “from above” to set the Lord’s wisdom apart from earthly wisdom? Does human wisdom exist at all? Does this distinction matter?

Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.  — 1 Corinthians 2:6 (ESV)

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” — Luke 7:33-35 (NIV84)

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. — Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be Wisdom in me as I follow in Your steps to please You in all I do. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Messy Relationships: Opportunities for Peacemakers”

Date: 9-21-14

Text: James 2:8-11 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Your BFF became your BFF because you worked through the mess.

My Thoughts: 

As you look around and ‘analyze’ your relationships, you may noticed that it was a rare relationship in which you didn’t have to work through a mess. Even with your BFF, there were messy times—times you didn’t think you’d stick it out….

Lifestyle worshipers, every relationship is an opportunity (a trial) to produce perseverance within us. And many, if not all, are very,  very messy, aren’t they? This is why James exhorts us: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). And one major way perseverance (aka patience) will be able to ‘finish its work” in us, is if we stick it out…. This is how your BFF became your BFF: you worked through the mess; you hung in there; you stuck it out. And as the farmer works hard throughout the growing season, he sticks it out to receive a bountiful harvest at the right time….

Have you found this to be true in many of your relationships, especially those in which you worked through the mess? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

— Hebrews 12:11 (NIV84)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

— Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

— 1 James 3:18 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Slippers of Patience: The Right Slipper of Forgiveness and the Left Slipper of Forbearance. Continue to make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Wealthy’s Social Responsibility”

Date: 9-20-14

Text: James 5:1-6– Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James, like his Brother, Jesus, is very, very concerned how the scattered believers use their wealth.

My Thoughts: 

Have you read the above passage yet? If you have, give it a read again. How does it make you feel? (a) “Right on! Give it to them!” or (b) “Hey, wait! That’s not fair! I worked hard for my money”? Whichever side you come down on, we have to admit that James does come at the rich pretty hard. James is tell the wealthy that they have a social responsibility to use their wealthy righteously: (1) because it is temporary (vv. 1-3); (2) because it is right to pay those a fair wage who do a fair day’s labor (v. 4); (3) because righteousness is not self-indulgent nor does it selfishly corrupt justice in the courts (vv. 5-6)….

Lifestyle worshipers, lest you think James is just flying off the handle, he is actually remembering a sermon his older Brother once gave. Jesus preached stuff like this? Yep. It was in a sermon called, “The Sermon on the Plain,” (the cousin to “The Sermon on the Mount”) In it our Master says this: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:24-26 NIV84).

The word, “woe,” is an intense word denoting a deep sense of compassionate concern for the dire outcome of one’s actions. James, like his Brother, Jesus, is very, very concerned how the scattered believers use their wealth. How do you feel about this? Do the wealthy have a social responsibility? To what degree? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

— Matthew 6:24 (NIV84)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

— Matthew 6:21 (NIV84)

 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

— 1 Timothy 5:6-10 22 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be Wisdom in me as I use what You have blessed me with to bless others. Continue to make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Is Mercy Needed in Any Relationship”

Date: 9-19-14

Text: James 2:8-13  If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Because “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” in a healthy relationship I am offered yet another chance..

My Thoughts: 

Mercy seems to be a critical aspect of any relationship. At least, this is what I have discovered. True, Love is as critical a component, but it seems that mercy is a subset of Love. Without mercy, if I fail in one part of the relationship, say, forget to take the garbage down to the curb, or call ahead to say I’ll be late, then I am violating the entire relationship. I have just demonstrated I cannot be trusted to keep my word. But because “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” in a healthy relationship I am offered yet another chance. …

Lifestyle worshipers, have you found mercy to be a vital component of your relationships? How would you define mercy? And what role do you see this playing in our growing up through the opportunities we get to extend mercy and counting it all joy? Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

— Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV84)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy

— Matthew 5:7 (NIV84)

 Be merciful to those who doubt;

— Jude 22 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be Mercy in me as You make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Test of Envy Through Relationships”

Date: 9-18-14

Text: James 1:9-11  The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Our true Love being test with regard to material ‘stuff’.

My Thoughts: 

This may seem like a simplistic argument, but if we all had the same ‘stuff,’ we would never be tested with envy or jealousy or stealing…. Why do we need to be tested? To demonstrate true Love; a Love that springs from a heart that freely chooses to embrace, commit, sacrifice… for another. …

Lifestyle worshipers, maybe some of us have ‘burped,’ “It’s not fair. Why would God do such a thing?” This is a good question. Yet it appears He started this test pattern in the garden with the two trees. Oh, there were many more trees in the garden, but He pointed out two, and He gave expressed instructions not to eat from one of the designated two: “Don’t eat the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.” (Don’t you find it interesting that He did not command Adam or Eve, “You must eat from the tree of Life”?)

Just like Adam and Eve’s true Love for the LORD was being tested through obedience, so is our true Love being test with regard to material ‘stuff’. This test reveals whether or not the “Have’s” will look on the “Have not’s” with distain, etc., and the “Have Not’s” will envy (stealing in their hearts) what the “Haves” have. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see a Christ-like response to the disparity between the rich and the poor? Do you see this as a test at all?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

— Luke 16:10-12 (NIV84)

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

— Revelations 3:17:18 (NIV84)

 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

— 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, empower me by Your Holy Spirit so that I may have a response to the disparity between the rich and the poor that will honor Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In His Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Another Test Lab for Growing Up”

Date: 9-16-14

Text: James 2:1-4  My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices.

My Thoughts: 

The first test lab for growing up James presents is trials, those general challenges of life that are more than slivers. But he also presents a second test lab: Relationships. He brings up the subject in 1:9-11, and speaks about social status particularly between the rich and the poor. But he hits it head on in 2:1-4: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices. …

Lifestyle worshipers, we know we should not favor the rich over the poor. And perhaps this is easy for some, but what I find more difficult not to favor is the ‘lovelies’ over the ‘unlovelies’. Now, my definition of these two words may be somewhat different from yours, but a shared aspect is going to be something like this: the ‘lovelies’ are those I am comfortable with and click with versus ‘unlovelies’ whom I find very, very difficult embarrassing, and draining to be around.

I know that this test lab has a lot more revealing to do in my life. How about in yours? Any thoughts….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

— Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV84)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

— Romans 12:16 (NIV84)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

— Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for favoring the ‘lovelies’ and ignoring the ‘unlovelies’. I know Your Son mostly hung around with the ‘unlovelies’ of society, and I want to be more like Him. Cleanse me from this unrighteousness so that I may reflect His Life in me more clearly to those You truly Love far more than I can in my own strength. In Your Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike